by Larry Peterson
The brutal murder of journalist, James Foley, had nothing to do with James Foley. It had to do with the fact that the man represented Goodness. Satan, in complete charge of his conquered souls, has had them inflicting horror and terror and barbaric acts of murder and cruelty on, not only men, but on women and children as well. This evil has been with us since time immemorial. Let us travel back a mere 71 years and meet a sweet and kindly lady by the name of Sister Maria Restituta.
May 1, 1894, was a happy day for Anton and Marie Kafka. Marie had just given birth to her sixth child and mom and her daughter were doing fine. The proud parents named their new baby, Helena. Devout Catholics, Anton and Marie had Helena baptized into the faith thirteen days later at the parish of The Church of the Assumption, in the town oh Husovice in Austria. Due to financial circumstances, Anton was forced to move his family to the big city of Vienna. Helena was barely two and she and her siblings would remain in Vienna where they would all grow up.
Helena was a good student and worked hard. She received her First Holy Communion in May of 1905 in St. Brigitta Church and was confirmed in the same church one year later. After eight years of school she spent another year in housekeeping school and by the age of 15 was working as a servant, a cook and learning to be a nurse. She became an assistant nurse at Lainz City Hospital in 1913. This was when Helena first had contact with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. She immediately felt the call to become a Sister herself. On April 25, 1914, Helena Kafka, joined the Franciscan Sisters and on October 23, 1915, she became Sister Maria Restituta. One year later she made her final vows and began working solely as a nurse.
|Blessed Maria Restituta|
Sister Restituta was very outspoken in her opposition to the Nazi regime. When a new wing to the hospital was built Sister hung a Crucifix in each of the new bedrooms. The Nazis demanded that they be removed telling Sister Maria that she would be dismissed if she did not comply. She adamantly refused and the Crucifixes remained on the walls. One of the doctors on staff, himself a fanatical Nazi, would have none of it. He denounced her to the Nazi Party and, on Ash Wednesday, 1942, she was arrested by the Gestapo as she exited the operating room. The "charges" against her included "hanging crucifixes and writing a poem that mocked Hitler".
Sister Maria Restituta, the former Helena Kafka, loved her Catholic faith and, filled with the Holy Spirit, wanted to do nothing more than to serve the sick. The Nazis promptly sentenced her to death by guillotine for "favouring the enemy and conspiracy to commit high treason". The Nazis offered her freedom if she would abandon the Franciscans she loved so much. She refused.
An appeal for clemency went as far as the desk of Martin Bormann, Hitler's personal secretary and Nazi Party Chancellor. His response was that her execution "would provide effective intimidation for others who might want to resist the Nazis". Sister Maria Restituta spent her final days in prison caring for the sick. Because of her love of the Crucifix and for the Person who was nailed to it and died hanging on it, Sister Maria was sent to the guillotine and was beheaded on March 30, 1943. She was 48 years old.
Pope John Paul II visited Vienna on June 21, 1998. That was the day that Helena Kafka, the girl who started off in housekeeping school and became a servant and then went on to be a nurse in the Franciscan Sisters of Charity, was beatified by the Pope and became Blessed Maria Restituta. She had learned how to serve extremely well, always serving others before herself.
Let us ask Blessed Maria that she pray for the repose of the soul of James Foley who was murdered by the forces of evil because he, too, represented Goodness. We ask her to remember his family and friends as they deal with this terrible abomination done to their loved one. We also ask Blessed Maria and all the saints to pray for us all.